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Research & Analysis Services

AWARE CI/MI Research & Analysis services are designed to help clients at all stages of the competitive & marketing intelligence process, from the initial stages of identifying what is needed to integrating the results into business strategy. Our approach is to support all our clients’ competitive & marketing intelligence processes including

Setting up a CI Function

The "Setting up a CI Function" service takes place over a period of time - depending on the exact organisational requirements and your company size, industry and structure. A key aspect in the process of setting up an effective CI department is to ensure the involvement of both staff capable of providing relevant information and staff who require the resulting information for their decisions.

The work includes :

  • CI Audit: find what is already known within the organisation.
  • Identifying intelligence requirements / Key intelligence topics (KITS).
  • Ensuring relevant staff know how to find competitive information.
  • Establishing ethical guidelines.
  • Training staff in CI theory & techniques.
  • Establishing templates and processes for communicating intelligence.
  • Establishing feedback mechanisms to ensure that value is achieved.
Company Profiles.

Company profiles give a snapshot of available information on competitors, customers, suppliers, etc. and can be customised for particular end-users.
Depending on the format and content, they can provide anything from the background information required by the sales force to the information that the board needs when investigating potential acquisitions or deciding major strategic initiatives against a competitor.

Typically profiles fall into one of three categories and price levels.

  • Basic giving the key details on a competitor.
  • Detailed, containing key competitor details as well as news stories and basic analysis, thus giving a more thorough look at a competitor.
  • In-depth, containing the above but backed up by custom research looking at strategies, processes and involving interviews with the competitor's customers, suppliers and others with a close knowledge of the competitor.
Competitor Monitoring & Industry Tracking.

Keeping up-to-date with competitor change and activity is a key aspect of competitive intelligence telling you what new products are being developed, key management and organisational changes or financial issues, etc. This needs to be ongoing as knowing what key competitors are doing can have an impact on your own organisational success.

AWARE's monitoring services track news on competitors, markets, industries and technologies - as required. Working with you, we build up a knowledge base so we can filter news items meaning you only get significant items with relevant analysis and interpretation - helping identify trends and patterns or spot anomalies that can indicate something new.  Costs are based on the number of items tracked, but can be capped at a fixed sum per month - with only the most important items being reported. Monitoring can focus on news stories, blogs, web-site changes, advertising, patents, financial filings or whatever is needed. We can also include trade-show & conference intelligence collection to add further value, identifying newcomers to an industry and how companies promote themselves.
Due Diligence Research.

Acquiring, merging and partnering other companies are important elements in corporate strategy. They are also highly risky and many fail - not because the financials were wrong - but because of a hidden problem that was not but should have been found before any agreement was signed. AWARE's Due Diligence research looks for these hidden problems. We research the market, the company and its business environment - speaking to customers, suppliers, current and ex-employees, neighbours and anybody else likely to know about what is really going on within the target organisation.

The aim is to find out what the target organisation would prefer you not to know - or perhaps doesn't even know itself. We'll report on any off-balance sheet type problems: legal issues, poor morale, customer or supplier dissatisfaction, etc. that could lead to problems in either the short or longer term.
We can also look at potential new recruits - in confidence - to ensure that what they say about themselves is the truth, speaking to previous employers and colleagues, and we include a full check on social media to look at their connections and attitudes.
Win-Loss Analysis providing detailed information on lost sales and why sales are won.

You've just won a major contract - and everybody is happy. However do you really know why your new customer chose you? Was it just the sales-person's skills, or your product and service excellence?
Win-Loss Analysis will help you find out why customers choose you, and more importantly, when you lose a customer what went wrong. Was it really that the competitor offered a lower price as the sales agent claimed - or was there another reason which nobody wants to admit?

Knowing why customers choose you means that you can focus on these aspects and target this type of customer and so maximise your chances of gaining sales. Conversely, knowing why you lost a customer allows you to correct the problems so that it doesn't happen again. Win-Loss Analysis gives a full view of customer perceptions on, and purchasing behaviour from, all the key players in a market and so is essential for competitor strategy development.
Trade-Show Intelligence gathering information at trade shows, conferences and exhibitions.

Trade shows & trade conferences are an invaluable source for information on competitors and the whole industry. They are a one-stop shop where all the players in an industry gather together and allow for an assessment of competitors, customers and suppliers to the industry - with information on how the industry players view the market and each other.

Trade Show Intelligence is much more than collecting brochures and attending presentations. We'll also speak to staff manning competitor stands to gather their perspectives, attend new product demonstrations, and identify what's new and important to the target companies. We look at visitor throughput, promotions and much more. At conferences, we'll attend relevant presentations and report back on the content and attitudes to what was said.
Our Trade Show Intelligence services are aimed at giving you a truly objective picture of your competitors' presence at key trade events.
Competitor & Product/Service benchmarking.

In order to compete effectively, you need to know how your products and services compare to those offered by competitors.

  • What features and benefits do you offer that they don't?
  • What is their quality, price, guarantee, size... and so on, compared with yours?
  • How do customers and prospects view the various products on the market?
The information you gather can be used in various ways:

  • to set a standard to improve your products (knowing what competitors are doing can allow you to ensure that your products are better or offer more, etc.);
  • to help your sales people when faced with customer questions asking about product differences;
    and so on.
    AWARE's benchmarking research will allow you to collect the information you need to compare your products to one or several competitors and thus ensure that you stay competitive.
Counter-Intelligence – checking for intelligence weaknesses or information leaks.

Our counter-intelligence services test your company's susceptibility to giving out information useful to a competitor. Unlike with regular competitor research we can use methods that would be unethical (or even illegal) if carried out on a competitor - for example, we work with ethical hackers to penetrate your computer systems, testing whether a criminal could gain access to your databases. This enables us to fully test your vulnerability to attack from anybody trying to obtain information about you, or damage your company.

Our approach uses a range of methods - for example:

  • phone calls to staff, asking for information;
  • online research looking for web information mentioning you;
  • social media checks to see what your employees and others are saying about you;
  • cyber-attacks.
    We use all of these in combination, or focus on one method if you believe that is where you are most vulnerable. The objective is for you to see where your weaknesses are, allowing you to protect your company and its reputation.
Research methodologies used will depend on the question. Generally intelligence gathering uses both online research and interviewing a mix of people with a knowledge of the research topic.
Advising on strategic approaches to the market – including how markets may change
Scenario planning

To ensure survival, businesses need to plan. They need to anticipate the future and prepare for events that could happen. Classical forecasting approaches include trend analyses using moving averages, for example. These assume business will continue in a similar fashion to the past - extrapolating from the present to the future. Unfortunately the future is not this predictable - especially five, ten or more years ahead.

Scenario Planning enables organisations to look at the factors impacting their business and its environment. It uses these to construct pictures or scenarios of possible and plausible futures and these are then used to prepare and plan for what could happen. Companies using the technique have reported remarkable successes: Shell, for example, predicted the 1970's Oil Crisis and the changes that took place prior and immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

AWARE can help you anticipate the future by training your staff in scenario planning techniques and work alongside you in drafting up scenarios for your industry, business and for competitors.

War games

A business War Game allows organisations to examine beliefs and assumptions about their business environment and identify emerging opportunities and threats. It's a tool that is of particular use when the competitive environment is undergoing a process of change, allowing decision makers to test strategies, discover blindspots, and uncover assumptions about the business environment.

War Games generally involve a number of teams with each representing different “players” operating in the industry environment. Typically, taking into account the game's scope and purpose, war games last from one to three days with each team role-playing competitors, and sometimes key customers, or other organisations such as regulatory bodies active in the industry. However there is no single way to arrange a War Game - and the particular circumstances involved help determine the game format.

War Gaming requires considerable work preparing the detailed information packs needed so teams can effectively role-play their chosen or allocated organisation. AWARE can advise on, and help plan and facilitate different types of War Game, including both one-day and multi-day games.

Research methodologies used will depend on the question.

In summary our research services offer you in-depth competitive intelligence & market research aimed at answering specific questions about a competitor, market or industry.
 

The results provide answers to questions about competitor plans & strategies, identify acquisition targets through due diligence studies, benchmark & compare competitors, build a strategic understanding of the industry or markets of interest or allow for the negation of weaknesses and threats.